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BB King thoughts

Brad Sondahl 07 May 98 - 09:36 AM
Earl 07 May 98 - 10:05 AM
Jon W. 07 May 98 - 10:13 AM
Gene E 07 May 98 - 10:40 AM
steve t 07 May 98 - 12:58 PM
Art Thieme 10 May 98 - 01:23 AM
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Subject: BB King thoughts
From: Brad Sondahl
Date: 07 May 98 - 09:36 AM

I was listening to BB King (Completely Well) yesterday, and thinking about how even though he has great arrangements, great guitar, great songs, and great voice, he comes off less real than contemporaries Muddy Waters or Howlin Wolf. It seems like he figured out the perfect blues scale and just trots off variations on it. I think I'm prejudiced because I always picture him playing in Las Vegas instead of Chicago, so he seems more of a showboy than a homeboy. Anybody else have strong feelings on this?


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Subject: RE: BB King thoughts
From: Earl
Date: 07 May 98 - 10:05 AM

I think it's partly a matter of style. BB King never played Chicago blues as defined by the Chess records stars. In the early fifties it was not uncommon to have a blues performer backed by a big show band. BB King is probably the only one still doing it.

As a crossover artist, BB King is sometimes criticized by blues purists the way Louis Armstrong is critcized by jazz purists. Listen to his early stuff like "3 O'clock Blues" to hear how he earned his reputation.


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Subject: RE: BB King thoughts
From: Jon W.
Date: 07 May 98 - 10:13 AM

BB has his own style. I wouldn't say its any more or less real, just different. It's closer to jazz than the other guys you mentioned. There was a time in the 70's - 80's when he dipped more into soul than I cared to listen to. I've only seen him live once - I think it was 1981 - and he had just about a whole orchestra backing him up, including sythesizers, which I felt was terribly excessive - but he still sent a chill up my spine when he sang the line "tell that slick insurance salesman, he'd better write some insurance for himself." He was introduced as "the great gentleman of the blues" which really sums it up. Lately when I've seen him on TV he has gone more back to his roots with a smaller band and more traditional blues songs. His sound is different (some would say more refined) than Muddy, Wolf, etc. because he uses a hollow-body guitar which doesn't have much sustain, and as far as I know he never uses a slide. Also he doesn't play rhythm much, just the lead fills and solos.


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Subject: RE: BB King thoughts
From: Gene E
Date: 07 May 98 - 10:40 AM

Some people would say that by the time blues hit Chicago, it began to be less "real" and really it was in transition, on the way to becoming R&B / Rock.

It's a matter of taste and opinion.

Gene E


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Subject: RE: BB King thoughts
From: steve t
Date: 07 May 98 - 12:58 PM

Blues: the cry a baby makes before he learns that someone will comfort him. I agree -- B.B. King is second rate. The only really good blues is found in folk. Can you get any blusier than "Deep Blue Sea"?


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Subject: RE: BB King thoughts
From: Art Thieme
Date: 10 May 98 - 01:23 AM

Listen to BB's "Five Long Years"---simply PURE blues. "I worked five long years for one woman---and she had the NERVE to toss me out!"

When Muddy came to Chicago from Stovall Plantation in Mississippi I do suspect he'd do just about anything at all to keep from going back to Mississippi. He was a superb country blues artist---check out his Library Of Congress recordings he made for Alan Lomax while still in the delta.

But in Chicago the adopted this new-fangled electric guitar so he could be heard over the noise in the bars where he made his living---Teresa's etc.

Sure that led a later generation to take it in their own direction & make rock out of it. We all know the links between Howlin' Wolf and the Rolling Stones--Clapton and Muddy.

BUT IN CHICAGO in the 60s there was MIKE BLOOMFIELD using BB King's high wailing notes at least as well as BB did it. (I still think the best playing Bloomfield ever did was behind Nick The Greek ---Nick Gravenites on Nick's LP for Columbia.)

Still terribly sad that Mike and Butterfield and so many others of my generation of white blues wonders overdosed and died way too young. I'll miss Mike 'til I'm gone too. But so many, like their Afro-American heroes, are still out their making great music: Corky Siegel, Charlie Musselwhite, Jim Schwall, Steve Miller. More power to ya guys! (I saw Siegel-Schwall and Bloomfield and Butterfield and Charlie Musselwhite AUDITION THE SAME NIGHT (I think) for that grand Chicago Wells Street blues bar called BIG JOHNS!!) What fantastic stuff was goin' down in Chicago in those days. Muddy & Wolf & Little Walter--James Cotton (with Muddy), Hubert Sumlin (with Wolf)---all of 'em had their own nights at Big Johns!!

Twas sure a great place to be! The only place to be then!

Sure do seem to be an amazing parade! Change is inevitable. The more things change the more they get different! Steve Gillette calls the Mississippi River THE LAZY MANS PARADE! Let's just sit back & listen to it as it passes us by! And it will pass us by. That's OK. 'Caus that's life.

Art Thieme


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